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Thursday, March 28, 2024


 La Cittadella dei Sibillini has been our creativiy retreat for some eight years now. Although I'd first discovered it 25 years ago when I had decided to escape from Tuscany to a far off land on the other side of the Peninsula;...... Le Marche. 

    the restaurant at Cittadella

I'd made some new best friends and one weekend they invited me to join them for lunch at a secret venue in the Sibillini mountains, andto go walking there in the forests. But also to go to a country restaurant called Cittadella, and to meet the owner Silvio, whose guest house nestles in the valley, beneath the majestic Mount Vettore. As well as the Hobbit like restaurant, there was a wine cellar, stocked with an astonishing variet of wines and our host  invited us to join him for a lunch (which drifted into an extended aperitifs hour or more); a long afternoon of celebration about nothing in particular, except maybe it was simply of life itself, perched as we were on a mountainside, some 1,800 metres in the sky.

    Morning Ci Kung, by the pool

And I was smitten....

..........By the beauty of the landscape.

By tales of its fascinating history; of the Piceni tribes who lived here; a people whose origin has never been traced but whose art and culture was breathlessly beautiful

   Gong session with Giovanni

And they in turn conquered by those bullies, the Romans, who built cities and towns across the countryside as far north as the ancient Greek City of Ancona.

By the stories of fairies and witches who still abound here, and to realise that the ancient Nature Religions are still thiving here to this day

And then the seductive charm of Cittadella itself, of its enigmatic owner Silvio, who in his mild way, embodies the very essence of this part of the Apenines; the rivers, the forests, the mountains and their bubbling streams. As if they are embedded in his DNA.

  Art cafĂ©

Writing this, I am reminded of what the American artist and teacher, Robert Henri, wrote to his students some 130 years ago, that 'The objective isn't just to make art, but rather to be in that state of mind where art becomes inevitable

   Morning get together

And yes, Cittadella is a state of mind. To excercise early of a morning by the side of the pool; to do Tai Chi and Chi Kung beneath Mt Vettore in the crystal clean air. To open our senses to the wind and the boundless sky, to the awakening sounds of nature, the birdsong chorus. And later, after breakfsat, walking in the forest; cupping our hands into a mountain stream and splashing our faces; to say good morning to life, to Mother Nature.

 Time to rest and contemplate

And indeed, this is where creativity finds us

It flows through us

And we experience the urge to create beyond ourselves, to make images, to make forest art, to write poetry, music; and to laugh together at our good fortune to be here, at this time, at this place.

To give life back to life,


For further information or questions about Michael's workshops, go to his website
Or you can mail him on

And for this week's GUARDIAN write up on Le Marche, read this

Wednesday, March 20, 2024


I wrote this a few days back in my previous blog

'But we are no longer children and the experience is different for us. It is deeper and longer lasting, It is as if it is something which we cannot summon, but one which arrives as a gift, as if it is in a message brought to us by a bird or a totem animal. I have had many of such experiences, but now is not the time to write about them;  I will in my next blog'

And here it is. This just popped up from the ether two days ago, as if by chance...It's a reel

I have had the good fortune of meeting and being taught by a Shaman in the States and this brings back memories, stories to tell.

But here's a poem in the meantime from my poet friend Colin Pink

My mountain workshops in summer are open for booking now and you can read about them on my site , which is in Italian and English.
They are based at Cittadella, in the Sibillni National Park of Le Marche in Italy; an area steeped in history and blessed by nature. It's an artist's refuge, a place to rediscover yourselves with painting, poetry, walking in the wild and making land art by the gushing mountain streams, TaiChi and Ci Kung too of a morning before breakfast
Contact Michael at


Sunday, March 17, 2024

Art/4; land art


    the Fiastra river


Land art

Yesterday morning found us four artists at the river of Fiastra, which flows past the Abbey of the same name. And flowing it was, at a noisy and phenomenal rate after the heavy rains of the last weekend. We groped our way through thickets and brier and had to jump down into a steep ditch and into mud to get near to the river edge

We never ever plan exactly what we are going to do on our fortnightly excursions into the wild, but we always come prepared with paints and colours and paper, inks, pens, you name it, just in case.

But as soon as we'd reached the river bed, whatever intentions we might have had, dissolved and were washed down stream, because..

We were instantly making land art, on our knees, scabbling about, collecting twigs, leaves, stones, branches, wild flowers; whatever we came across to.... well, it's hard to say really, because, .....because, we had become totally absorbed. No ideas coming from our heads, (but from who knows where ?); as if it were the river, or the trees guiding our hands.

We lost track of time and some auto instinct had me look at my watch and low and behold we were minutes away from a lunch I'd booked at a local pub and we were hungry.

Food before art I always say, so I zoomed off to secure our table and the others followed rapidly as if by magic, arriving just minutes after me. Mysterious that, because they'd been miles behind.

So there you have it.

We discovered something new in our creative lives. Land art takes you into a realm, a state of mind perhaps, or even no mind, which feels good, which feels peaceful and which washed away the monkey chatter in our brains, as swiftly as a crashing river.

We've done this in our childhood, we remember all these innocent things from when we were kids; sand castles on the beach, collecting shells and driftwood, making love promises on trees and daisy chains for our first love when we are young, gathering blackberries and mushrooms and making little boats out of twigs and leaves to float our wishes to a magic kingdom in our imaginations, blowing dandeline wishes into the sky.

But we are no longer children and the experience is different for us. It is deeper and longer lasting, It is as if it is something which we cannot summon, but one which arrives as a gift, as if it is in a message brought to us by a bird or a totem animal. I have had many of such experiences, but now is not the time to write about them;  I will in my next blog

If you don't mind waiting ;0)

And we will meet again......... by the river!

Best wishes,


You can contact Michael for more about his art/nature/workshops in Italy here

or contact him at